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Mattituck attorney to challenge Supervisor Russell in June primary

03/12/2019 2:32 PM |

A Mattituck attorney has announced his plan to challenge incumbent Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell in a Republican primary June 25.

Stephen Kiely, 43, said he feels Southold Republicans are at a “crossroads.”

“I feel it’s due to Scott Russell being supervisor for 14 years and assessor for 15 years,” Mr. Kiely said. “He’s been in office for 29 years. I’m a big proponent of term limits and I’m going to run on term limits. I don’t think politics should be a career.”

Mr. Kiely feels the town is over-regulated and code enforcement is lacking. He also said the town needs to improve its relationships with the business community.

“We need fresh ideas and the ability to sit down and have a civil discourse with the business community,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “Right now there’s an environment of divisiveness between Town Hall and the business community.”

Mr. Russell said in an email Tuesday that “any friction with a very small segment of the business community is because we enforce the very code he suggests we don’t.”

“The business community, and its needs, is far too varied to make such a general statement,” the supervisor wrote. “[The Town Board has] a wonderful working relationship and enjoys broad-based support from within.”

Mr. Russell called term limits a “convenient position for a new candidate to take when challenging an established incumbent.”

He also questioned Mr. Kiely’s ability as a working attorney to dedicate his time to the town supervisor role.

Mr. Kiely served as an assistant Southold Town attorney from 2014 to 2016, representing the Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board, Trustees and building departments, and says he wrote the town’s transient rental law. He ran unsuccessfully last fall for a county judge post.

He is currently a prosecutor for Greenport Village, a special prosecutor for the Village of Westhampton Dunes and an independent contractor with Suffolk County, doing weekend arraignments at Riverhead Town Justice Court as a defense attorney.

Mr. Kiely also has a private zoning practice on the South Fork. He says he was hired by the Brookhaven Town attorney’s office right out of law school in 2004.

“I think I am a viable candidate,” he said, adding that he’s been a Republican since he was a teenager.

The state changed the date for primaries from September to late June, and this will be the year first with the new primary date.

The change forced political committees to endorse their candidates slates in February rather than May.

Mr. Russell was endorsed by Republicans Feb. 25 to run for another term and he’s vowed to continue focusing on the issues that have been important to him during his first 14 years in office.

“Issues such as strong fiscal management, affordable housing, finding grants for small businesses, providing recreational opportunities and land preservation should be any candidate’s focus,” Mr. Russell said Tuesday.

The Southold Democrats chose Greg Doroski of Mattituck as their supervisor candidate last month. Mr. Doroski also described the town as being at a “crossroads.”

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